Social media influencers have a personal brand; in fact, some of them seem to have no other marketable skills besides performing a likable or fascinating offensive identity. But does having a personal brand matter in the legal profession? The quality of services you provide to your clients is due to your knowledge of the law and your work ethic. No gimmicks, no matter how clever, can make you a better lawyer. Law firm branding is about much more than catchy slogans and attractive website design. It has to do with how and where you make your law firm visible, and how to communicate clearly and truthfully about what your law firm does. If you work with a marketing firm that normally deals in branding for lifestyle coaches and pop-up shops, they probably will not be too helpful. Instead, you should work with a marketing company that is well versed in branding for law firms.
You might not use the term “brand identity” to describe this phenomenon, but when you established your law firm, you probably had a clear idea of the services you want to provide. Solo and small law firms have learned to heed the warnings about not practicing “door law,” where you purport to be able to solve any legal problem, so people ask you to do everything from applying for a green card for their spouse to reducing their child support obligations to getting them acquitted of murder. Being a jack of all trades in the legal profession is a recipe for constant stress and professional failure. Therefore, you and your partners might say, “We only do traffic accident personal injury cases, no premises liability, and no medical malpractice,” or “we only do family law and we only represent fathers,” or “we are a criminal defense law firm, but only drug cases and DUI, no violent crime.”
If you have done this, you have already done the most important part of law firm branding. Now all that is left is to communicate your message. On Google searches and in real-life conversations, your goal is to be known as the law firm in your city that focuses all your efforts on the specific service that your target audience needs.
A user persona is a fictional character who represents your target audience; the most famous example is Becky the soccer mom, the user persona to whom Contemporary Christian radio gears its programming. Maybe your user persona is Eric, the divorced dad stretched thin by the financial demands of his blended family. (Of course, Eric is a composite of numerous clients you have actually represented.) You have probably already heard that you should think about not only Eric’s age and income level, but also his political views, pet peeves, and favorite TV shows, the better to fill your blog with pop culture references that will resonate with Eric, because he is probably too young to recognize the Beatles lyrics that would ordinarily find their way into your blog.
The more practical question is not “what does Eric like and dislike,” but “where is Eric?” Then you should make your content and advertisements visible in parts of the Internet and the physical world where Eric is likely to see them. He is too old for Tik Tok, so do not bother building a presence there, and he is too young to read print newspapers, so do not bother advertising in those.
Successful branding for law firms does not require you to reinvent the wheel. A big part of it is simply seeing which ideas are out there that no one in your geographic area is currently using. Remember how, before you chose a domain name, and before you even got an employer identification number for your business, you had to make sure that your intended business name and domain name were not already taken? There is a lot of intellectual property out there that is not taken. Law firm branding can include using software like Fraze, which shows you how businesses in your state rank on SEO for a variety of search terms and questions, and even analyze other aspects of successful business blog content.
Registering trademarks on distinctive language and images you use is also an important part of law firm branding. You could even invest in trademark watch services that update you on which trademarks in your industry have been registered and which ones are no longer active.
Working with law firm branding professionals is the best way to get started on staking your claim to the attention of your target audience. You have already made the big decisions about what you want your law firm to be; the next step is to communicate it to the world.